Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (SSO)
The night started off with my highlight of the show: "Leonore Overture #3". Unfortunately, the orchestra was lacking the passion that belies the operatic background from which this piece is from. Perhaps the musicians have not watched the opera but guest conductor Günther Herbig conducting did it no service.
The second piece of the night introduced the audience to guest pianist Martin Roscoe playing Dohnányi's "Variations on a Nursery Song, for piano and orchestra, Op. 25". Roscoe is technically very good nailing the variations but sometimes too technical results in a decreased passion that flows out through the music. Also, the chemistry between piano and orchestra was tenuous at best.
Roscoe's encore of Dohnányi's "Rhapsody in C" was much better!
After the intermission, we get the star of the night (for many I'm sure!). One of Beethoven's most famous symphony. Truth be told, this was the first time I'm hearing it played live by an orchestra, and the SSO was definitely better here than in Leonore. Much livelier and more confident sounding. Not surprisingly since this must be one of the most popular pieces every orchestra should have in their back pocket. Nonetheless, Herbig's conducting has got it down a tad slower than I preferred hence some of the urgency at points which will elevate the drama of the piece was slightly lost. Was it a conductor conscious choice or an adaptation to the calibre of the orchestra?